WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2015 — The participation rate among people eligible for USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) jumped to 83 percent in fiscal year 2012 from 78 percent in the previous year, according to a department report.

The report also found that in fiscal year (FY) 2012:

— The top three performers in enrolling eligible people were Maine, Oregon and Michigan, all with 100 percent participation rates, followed by the District of Columbia (99 percent) and Vermont (98 percent).

— The five worst performers: Wyoming (56 percent), California (63 percent), Nevada and Hawaii (both with 66 percent) and North Dakota (70 percent).

— Participation rates increased in 45 states and the District of Columbia from FY 2011 to FY 2012. Three states — Colorado, New Jersey and Indiana — significantly improved their participation rates from FY 2011.  

— Colorado improved 10 percent, from 66 to 76 percent, New Jersey improved 10 percent as well, from 67 to 77 percent, and Indiana improved 13 percent, from 71 to 84 percent.

The national participation rate for SNAP-eligible working-poor people was considerably lower at 72 percent than the overall participation rate. This was because some states that ranked relatively high in reaching SNAP-eligible people overall did poorly in reaching SNAP-eligible working-poor people. 

— The District of Columbia ranked second worst in reaching the working poor, despite being third best in reaching all eligible people.

— Kentucky, Illinois, Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island all had at least a 16 percentage point difference in their overall and working-poor SNAP eligibility rates.

— Point estimates for the rate of SNAP participation increased in 47 states and the District of Columbia among all SNAP eligible working-poor people from FY 2011 to FY 2012.

SNAP helps about 47 million Americans secure nutritious and adequate diets in an average month. As USDA’s largest program, SNAP has an annual budget of $74 billion, of which $70 billion goes directly to low-income households to purchase food.


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